Smartphones and business users were the clear winners at this show. Thanks to dropping prices and growing consumer demand, smartphones are finally going mainstream. And now that mobile content has flattened (and the BlackBerry is now mass market), the wireless industry is courting business professionals again.
This is great news for the industry because it means users will have access to more smartphones with real data access. For the carriers, that means more data revenue. And for the applications providers, it means more customers. For business consumers, it means more affordable smartphones and more choices for services like push e-mail.
Mobile banking returned to wireless news at this year's show, thanks to an initiative from the GSMA that I blogged earlier today.
The third winner at this year's 3GSM are emerging markets. As wireless in Europe and North America nears saturation, the industry is looking to markets like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and much of Africa for growth in the next few years.
Many customers in these markets will soon gain access to cell phones and mobile data services. For many of these users, cell phones will be their gateway to the Web. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.
The Losers At 3GSM
The biggest loser at 3GSM was mobile content, especially applications such as mobile games and ringtones. The wireless industry has backed off from pushing content and mobile content revenue has reached a plateau. The pullback from content was in evidence throughout the show as there was less advertising and fewer parties than in 2005, when mobile content was king in Cannes.
Another loser was mobile TV. While Nokia stressed mobile TV with its newest handset, the N77, and its big announcement with YouTube, other companies, like Sony Ericsson, went out of their way to avoid the hype.
Some bloggers complained that this show was a bore. I don't share their sentiments. What I saw here in Barcelona was a strong, growing industry approaching maturity. Wireless isn't widgets yet (I am talking about old-school widgets, not Web 2.0 apps). But, wireless is reaching its prime.
It's time for me to clear out of this press room, go back to my hotel and pack. OK, I might drop by the BlackBerry party on the way. Regardless, it's time for me to return to snowy and cold New York City. I hope everyone had a great show this year. I know I did. Thanks to the GSM Association and everyone here in Barcelona for a productive congress. I hope to see you all next year.